Each breath we take says either yes or no to life, in each breath we have the capacity to choose to consciously breathe, through this process it is possible to have control over the state of mind, health and overall wellbeing. As someone who has always struggled with breathing, learning techniques of breath through yoga has been such a powerful and liberating experience.
The first breathing technique or pranayama, I ever was taught was Dirga pranayama or the three-part-breath. This involves taking inhalations deeply, the abdomen rounds, the ribcage will lift and finally the chest begins to rise. Sounding very simple to grasp, the truth is quite different, and I do not believe even after 6 years that I am breathing to full capacity. Personally, I find that this breathing technique is a really grounding and relaxing experience…one which I also recommend to all my yogis to do on a daily basis before they step out of bed.
Learning pranayama allows for yogis to be able to control the flow of prana in the body, prana (primordial life force), the control of this prana allows it to be directed through the body.
It is uncommon in this day and age that people breathe correctly, for example mouth breathing which causes the breath to be short and shallow- this is common practice. Mouth breathing leads to over-breathing, chronic hyperventilation, depleted carbon dioxide levels, reduced blood circulation, build-up of toxins and narrowing of the airways. The nostrils have a highly-designed filtration system which is solely for the purpose of breathing.
This breath also decreases levels of stress and anxiety, this is due to an increase in the oxygen supply. The expansion of the lungs capacity builds concentration, patience, flexibility, and resistance. This also increases the secretion of the pituitary gland which develops intuition. The stimulation of the production of endorphins and brain chemicals which fight depression also make this way of breathing beneficial to individuals.
The breath is vital in maintaining life, the more breath that is invited in, the more life is invited in.
Take some time out each day, practice focusing all your attention to your breath, try to guide the breath deeply in the body and notice the changes in your body, mind and beyond.